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Be prepared for cold weather by understanding hypothermia

On Behalf of | Jan 27, 2020 | Firm News

Cold weather can be a huge danger to workers who are just trying to finish a job. It’s particularly dangerous for those who drive for work or who have to work outside in the elements.

In cold or freezing temperatures, there are a few different weather hazards that have to be monitored. Some include:

  • Wind chill
  • Temperature
  • Precipitation

Depending on how much precipitation there is, the current temperature and the wind chill, it could feel much colder than expected. Workers have to take precautions to stay warm and to avoid serious injuries as a result of these hazardous conditions.

One of the greatest risks to workers who are exposed to the elements is hypothermia. Hypothermia occurs when the body loses heat faster than it can produce it. Hypothermia is said to occur once the body falls to 95 degrees Fahrenheit or lower.

What are the three stages of hypothermia?

There are three stages of hypothermia. Being able to identify it in the early stages can help you prevent people you know from suffering the consequences of this dangerous condition.

The three stages include:

  1. Shivering, suffering from reduced circulation
  2. Slowed breathing, irritability, sleepy behavior, slow, weak pulse
  3. Sleepiness, drowsiness, reduced brain function, coma and death

You should also watch out for signs of colleagues or coworkers who say they’re hot despite it being cold outside. This can be a sign of paradoxical undressing, which is a phenomenon that occurs most often in cases of lethal hypothermia. In those cases, not long before the person goes into cardiac arrest, they take off all their clothing, as if they feel hot.

If you do notice that someone you’re working with or you begin to develop the first stages of hypothermia, it’s important to go inside immediately. If you’re cold, shivering or starting to become confused, it’s time to warm up. Employers should also make sure that their team members are educated on how to recognize and prevent hypothermia. If the conditions are too poor to work in or the right protective gear is not available, it’s better to wait to complete the job than to put your life at risk.

Hypothermia is just one of the many winter weather health conditions that you could develop under the wrong circumstances. Make sure you understand what it is, wear the right protective clothing and stay warm if you’re working outside during winter this year.